As of January 1st 2017, the previous VET FEE-HELP (VFH) system was replaced by the new program titled the VET Student Loans. The below update explains the changes, what is affected, and what it may mean to you.
What is VET FEE-HELP?
VET FEE-HELP is a federal student loan system. Students are able to enrol in this system for courses with census dates prior to 31st of December 2016 and then continue to study out and complete their chosen course of study until the 31st December 2017 under the existing system should they wish. This system allows eligible students who are studying in Diploma, or above level courses, to take a loan from the Commonwealth Government to pay for their studies.
What are VET Student Loans?
The VET Student Loans scheme (VSL) is the replacement for VET FEE-HELP. The VET Student Loans scheme commenced on the 1st of January 2017 (subject to passage of government legislation), and has a number of differences from the VET FEE-HELP system.
Why is there a new system?
The VET Student Loans scheme is being brought in to help protect students’ who are studying VET courses and to make sure that training organisations are delivering quality training and working appropriately.
What are the main changes?
Loan caps: Students who are eligible for VET Student Loans are able to borrow money to pay for their course up to a capped amount. This amount is set for each course, and will be in one of three bands; allocated by the Department of Education at $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000. Providers may charge more than this for a course. If they do, the student would need to pay for the difference themselves.
Eligible courses: Not all courses that were eligible for VET FEE-HELP are eligible for VET Student Loans. To make sure that VET Student Loans help students gain skills that lead to work, courses must be on at least two state and territory skills lists, or be related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
Engagement: Students need to show that they are making progress and engaging with their course in order to keep receiving payments to their VET Student Loan.
Repayment: Students need to repay their VET Student Loan when their income reaches a certain level. The current repayment threshold can be found at www.studyassist.gov.au - the income threshold for the 2016-2017 financial year is $54,869 per year.
The maximum amount that you can borrow from the Australian Government for all HELP courses is $99,389.
Providers: All private training providers who want to offer VET Student Loans have to apply for approval to do so.
Training providers who are already offering VET FEE-HELP may be given temporary approval to offer courses under the VET Student Loans scheme until their application is assessed prior to June 2017.
If the provider you choose to study with does not get approval to deliver courses under the VET Student Loans scheme from July 2017, you will only be able to access VET Student Loans with that provider until 30th June 2017. In this situation you will be able to transfer to an approved training provider that offers your course at no additional cost.